Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet Little A (2)

Hello, it's me again. I'm now nearly 20 months old. Soon I will be two. I am bigger now and have a new friend called Nanny. She feeds and plays with me and keeps me company when my parents aren't around. They're with me most of the time but sometimes go on adventures on their own and I stay home and have my own fun.

Here is a list of some things I like:
- riding escalators, lifts, the car, shopping trolleys and my stroller. The journey is sometimes more fun than the destination.
- swimming, climbing and running. Water in all its forms still fascinates me and I like splashing around in it, no matter how shallow or deep, clean or dirty. I can do stairs now and climb most things, even though I'm not allowed to.
- jumping. I recently learned to do this, and when I am excited, I bounce around and wave my arms about.
- playing with dogs.

And here are some things I don't like:
- sitting down for the whole of mealtimes. Boring. I explore my surroundings between bites.
- going to sleep on my own at night. Mum has to be there or else I won't sleep.
- attending children's parties where there are loud people shouting into microphones. The best parties are the ones where we can just play and eat when we want to.

These things I have mixed feelings about:
- going to playschool. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes it's boring.
- hanging out at my grandparents' house for long stretches of time. I think my folks are trying to train me into liking it so they can leave me there and go off by themselves for days. I'm on to them, though. And I think they know it.

That's enough for now. I'm sleepy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Small Toys for Bigger Boys

Since the new year started, my son has attended playschool four times. There are more kids in the class now; where there used to be only 3 or 4 boys all about the same age, (with Little A being the youngest at 18 months) there are now over half a dozen, including a few who are 3 years old.

When he first started attending "classes" in November, Little A was intrigued by a new environment, different toys and the presence of other people. (both children and adults) While he didn't want to join in group play and showed little interest in art activities, he willingly played with the train sets, puzzles and his special favourite, the shape sorter. Most of the time he still looked to me for comfort, and many times I spent anywhere from a few minutes to half the class time inside the play area with him. 

The month of January was like a vacation as getting back into the post-holiday sleep schedule meant Little A missed most of his classes. This month though, things have been back to normal and he's started going back to thrice-weekly sessions.

The interesting thing about watching young children in this type of play-learning environment is seeing just how differently each one develops.

While Little A is still the youngest in the class, there is another boy just a few weeks older than he who is already talking. All of the children speak at least a few words, but my little boy is just starting to regularly babble. He still refuses to join group activities and with more children in the class, we've noticed he prefers to stay apart. When all the kids are where the toys are, Little A sits by the door on the far end of the play area. He likes to look out the window, but yesterday when it started to rain and all the kids rushed to see it he moved away to the other side of the room.

His teachers have also noticed that he is not interested in the toys. I didn't expect him to want to play with the food toys, "cutting" and "serving" various fruit and vegetables, because he hardly sees raw food apart from when we are at the supermarket, and may not be able to connect real broccoli, carrots and the like to their small plastic counterparts that have velcro in the middle. But the train sets, puzzles and other small toys no longer hold his attention. He only likes to run around the play area, climb and roll about on the large cushions shaped like cylinders, pyramids and rectangles. 

Things out of his reach catch his eye, like the foam alphabet shapes the teachers mysteriously stuck onto the wall at an adult's eye level. When someone can lift him up, Little A reaches for these. He also likes looking at the framed animal prints in the reading corner. Occasionally he can be persuaded to play with something, but he doesn't keep at it for long before going back to his gymnastic activities.

While a part of me does worry about my little one's refusal to socialize with his classmates, I know there is nothing wrong with his attention span, as at home he spends ages poring over his books. He prefers to play outside, swimming, climbing, jumping and running, rather than rolling tiny cars over the floor. Maybe it's a stage, as he used to play happily with his small toys, particularly those that improve fine motor skills. Perhaps he's just looking for something more challenging. At any rate, he is continuing to grow and develop, and one thing I have learned by watching the children at play is that they all do this at their own rate and pace.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vomit, Vomit Everywhere

This past week, my 19-month old son has thrown up twice. When he was on a mostly-milk diet, a little regurgitation, or even a lot of it, didn't really matter because it was easy to sponge off and just looked and smelled like sour milk. But now he's eating like a regular person, the forcible expulsion of all the contents of his tummy all over the floor and myself is not so easy to clean up. 

There is a gastrointestinal bug going around so we were worried he may have caught it, but thankfully, it appears he hasn't. It seems both incidents may have just been a result of eating too much, too quickly. 

The first time I put down to the result of too much running during and immediately after eating his dinner, because when I approached Little A as he was being fed by the au pair, he ran towards me already retching. Full-on throwing up quickly followed, and he and I went straight into the tub to wash off while the au pair and the day girl mopped up the floor.

The second time happened two nights later. Unsure about what time he was going to sleep, (as his sleeping schedule is just starting to get back to normal) we fed him again 2 hours after he'd had a full meal. Half an hour after he fell asleep, he woke up crying and holding his mouth. He cried and cried and then he threw up. Luckily, we were in the bathroom already as I was trying to see if he was teething or had a mouth sore. (I found two mouth sores the next day, so those may have been the cause of the hysterical crying.) I popped him into the tub, but the poor boy was so tired he kept trying to lean his head on my vomit-covered shoulder to go back to sleep. 

I scrubbed him clean, and then myself, as he sat in the tub with his eyes shut, sobbing quietly. Poor baby. If I hadn't been so covered in puke, I'd have put him back to sleep first before getting cleaned up. Once he was back in dreamland I had to wash our soiled clothes and bath mat before finally going to bed. 

Ordinarily, another person's vomit and poo are probably the worst things once can imagine getting on one's self, but when it's your own child's, you don't mind so much. The disgust is a far second to worrying about the discomfort your little one must be feeling. This must be what they mean about unconditional love.

Since those two incidents happened, we've been feeding Little A less at each meal, but today both my husband and I noticed that he looks thinner so hope to increase the quantities again soon. 

Instead of the tummy bug, our son caught a cold. Probably because he went back to playschool last week. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ready or Not

February already. I've submitted most of my writing assignments (including a few pieces that weren't in the contract, so let's hope I get paid for those too!) and after many weeks of post-holiday season "jet lag," Little A seems to be getting back into a regular sleeping schedule. An entire month of sleeping past midnight and waking up between 10 and 11am has made it impossible for him to attend playschool until this week.

The family trip to Hong Kong went more smoothly than expected. We were dreading being stuck in the giant metal sausage even for just the hour and a half flight time with a very active toddler, but he was amazingly behaved both ways! This seems to be a sign of increasing emotional maturity.

The first suggestions that he was "growing up" came about during the last couple of supermarket trips. Where he previously had a 10 minute maximum shopping trolley tolerance and refused to ride his stroller at all, he suddenly realised he loved shopping trolleys and would try to climb into them whenever he saw one. He would sit in the trolley quite happily and only get antsy during checkout time, when he had to wait for the groceries to be zapped and bagged and the bill paid before getting them into the car. 

In preparation for the coming Hong Kong trip, I took his stroller from the corner it had been gathering dust in, and attempted to coax him into it for a few trips down the road to the bank. Surprisingly, he not only complied willingly, he seemed to enjoy sitting in what he once viewed as prison on wheels. So the signs looked favourable.

At the airport, where it took an inordinately long time to check in due to some problem with our tickets, my husband strolled Little A strolled around the departures area. We then let him run around through Immigration to exhaust his energy pre-flight and discovered a Children's Travel Lounge by the boarding gates, where he made friends with a Lego man twice his size. 

On the plane, he fell asleep before takeoff and upon waking sat quietly in my lap eating bread and drinking milk until we landed. Once we'd cleared Immigration and retrieved our baggage in Hong Kong, my sister organised a half-hour minibus ride to the hotel. Little A behaved during the entire ride, saving his energy to run around the lobby as we checked in.

While he still preferred to play on his own rather than with his cousins, he was fairly manageable the entire trip. He sat in his stroller when needed and got up to a minimum of mischief. Chinese New Year's dinner was a challenge as he didn't like the closed, full dining room on the hotel's executive floor. His father had to take him downstairs to our room and keep him there until 9pm, when, well and truly hungry, he sat in my lap and wolfed down the pasta he'd pushed away an hour earlier.

The plane ride home was equally pleasant. Having eaten at the hotel, he slept on the bus to the airport and woke up as we were clearing Immigration. My husband and I took turns chasing him around the airport while the other had lunch. Then we popped him into his stroller for the long walk to the departure gate. He spent the entire flight sitting on my lap despite having a seat of his own, but was again remarkably well-behaved: playing quietly, looking out the window and nursing.

These last few days, he's been weaning himself voluntarily, much to my surprise and delight. From insisting on nursing every few hours and every time we are in the car (no matter how short the journey), he no longer cries when I say no and give him a cup of milk instead. Perhaps it's helped that his body clock was readjusting (there were a couple of days when he didn't nap at all) or that we were away from home at naptime. 

Even better, he has managed to fall asleep in his stroller more than once. Joy of joys! Another blessing is that he has finally started to sleep in longer stretches. 2-3 hour straight naps, which most babies do from birth, are new to my 19 month old son, who for the first year and a bit of his life only slept 45 minutes at a time. 

With luck, things will continue to go smoothly. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed.